The great green room, red balloon, and cow jumping over the moon that exist in Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon find their fictional home on bookshelves across the world. Now, those who yearn to step into and explore the great green room depicted in this children’s book can do so at an immersive art exhibit, Goodnight House at Fort Makers, a Manhattan-based studio for contemporary art, furniture, stage, and product design. The exhibit isn’t just for kids! People of all ages are welcome to visit and immerse themselves in the beloved bedtime tale.
Goodnight Moon, originally published in 1947, recounts the story of a toy rabbit who says goodnight to everything and anything around him. Beginning small with concrete objects around itself, the rabbit bids adieu to its house and the moon. However, as the rabbit continues with his goodnight wishes, he says “goodnight” to more abstract ideas such as “nobody” and the “air.”
The childlike outlook of Goodnight Moon aligns with Fort Makers’ mission to be an “artist collective that designs bold, colorful, and tactile objects and environments through the lens of American craft.” With this bold, colorful attitude, various creators synthesized their work into one final product: Goodnight House.
In order to embody this innocent, childlike outlook on the world, Fort Makers encouraged the artists to make art and home goods with the innovative attitude of a child. Fort Makers Co-Founder and Creative Director Nana Spears said the company told artists to “rekindle their childlike understanding of the world around them, and create objects uninhibited by the horrors of adulthood.” The pieces found in the exhibit reimagine the classic images of the book’s illustrations, and explore their impact on the “American cultural understanding of comfort, sleep, compassion, and imagination.”
Some of the artwork and homegoods within the Goodnight House exhibit include a rockingchair and cloud-shaped bedside table created by CHIAOZZA (Adam Frezza & Terri Chiao) and a ceramic mantlepiece clock created by Keith Simpson. These modern takes on the children’s book written in 1947 demonstrate the childlike attitudes that persist between the two eras.
The Goodnight House exhibit honors both Brown and Goodnight Moon’s New York roots. Brown wrote the children’s book while living at the Charles Street Farmhouse, a wooden house in Manhattan built around 1810. The Charles Street Farmhouse is now located at 121 Charles Street in Greenwich Village, but it was moved there from the Upper East Side in 1967. It is believed that the fireplace inside the farmhouse, inspired the fireplace pictured on the cover of Goodnight Moon. You can even purchase Goodnight Moon-inspired pieces for your own home in the studio’s online shop.
Despite the children’s book’s New York origins, New York City has not always loved Goodnight Moon. The New York Public Library did not carry the title until 1972 because librarian Anne Carroll Moore hated Goodnight Moon when it was initially published. By 2020 however, the book was listed as one of the most borrowed books in the library’s history.
New York City is making up for its dearth of affection for Goodnight Moon in the past through the Goodnight House exhibit. You can reserve free tickets for a 20-minutes viewing of the exhibit on the Fort Makers website, here! Timeslots fill up quickly and you are encouraged to book at least 12 hours in advance.
Next, check out 12 Outdoor Art Installations in April 2021